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G&L Bass Blue Plate Special

Here’s a Craigslist special that a friend of mine bought that has seen its better days. This bass had four major things wrong with it, in addition to having a fairly scratched and dented paint job.

First, the electronic cavity was thrashed to the point of hanging on like a loose tooth in its final hour.

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Secondly, the fifth fret was victim to some mishap. The previous owner tried to reinstall it, but didn’t really have it lined up with the rest.

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Third issue was the nut had a special tone on the open A:

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The forth thing was the back of the neck looked and felt like an old worn out baseball bat.

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The first thing I did was slightly reduce the thickness of the neck with files and then sandpaper.

After raising the grain a few times with a damp paper towel and sanding the rock maple smooth each time,

I then applied two coats of Tung oil to give natural wood feel.

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Next thing was to rebuild the fret slot chips that the previous botched job had created.

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I prepared the fret for the slot with a fret bending machine and a pair of specialty fret tang crimping pliers.

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The fret wire is intentionally over bent to insure the tang grips the walls of the slot as it flattens out during installation.

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These Stew-Mac fret end cutters are hands down the best in the business.

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Now the fret is ready to be leveled with the rest. These are very handy tools for doing this job.

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Now comes the real fun part. This guitar needed to be reinforced with epoxy and metal to give it stability.

I suggested a trip to Goodwill and shortly there after the owner returned with this serving plate for only $4.

That has given this guitar the Blue Plate Special name, aka “Blue”.

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First the inside needed to be reinforced with 2-ton epoxy a piece of metal:

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Once dried, the cavity was now stable enough to be routed out with my Dremel to accept the front and back plates:

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The new back plate was held in with Velcro; a small hole was drilled above the old 9-volt battery cavity to accept an Allen wrench to pull it free. The depth of this cavity matched the depth of the plate plus the two layers of hook & loop.

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Now that the guitar is starting to take shape, the scratched finish is going to be the sticking out like something overlooked.

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Once the front plate has dried, a bead of Stew-Mac black superglue was added to help seal the deal.

I starting resurfacing the front here with 500 grit paper:

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Proceeded to 1000 & 1500 grit:

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…and finished the resurfacing with 2000 grit. It’s now ready for high speed cotton wheel buffers:

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And like magic a new face appears:

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Some chrome screws were added to the front plate to give it a more Texas look, in addition to this polished bolt for a strap button, and a new nut was cut.

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This project was quite involved, and if it wasn’t for my friend Matt Parmenter being so generous with his time as a recording engineer on my personal projects at his well equipped Ice Cream Factory Studio, in addition to some tool who had recently stolen his band Quiet Company’s gear out of their trailer, I probably wouldn’t have taken this multi-layered project on. This bass sounded pretty decent to being with, given the body’s condition, but now it sounded, looked and felt like a true G&L instrument, with a Texas twist.

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